The 2016 total corn harvest in South Africa, the world’s biggest producer of the white variety after Mexico, fell 22 percent, the smallest crop since 2007, as an El Nino-induced drought damaged crops for a second year.
Local farmers produced 7.78 million metric tons last year, Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the Crop Estimates Liaison Committee, said by phone Thursday. This is less than the 9.96 million tons reaped in 2015 and 2.8 percent more than the median estimate of 7.57 million tons by four analysts in a Bloomberg survey Feb. 3.
South Africa’s rainfall in 2015 was the lowest since records started in 1904, damaging crops and boosting prices, and the country became a net importer of the grain last year for the first time since 2008. While precipitation in 2016 was also poor, above-average showers in the past three months have given relief to growers, with the Vaal Dam, which supplies water to Johannesburg and surrounding areas, reaching its highest level in 15 months, the government said Jan. 17.
South Africa is the continent’s largest producer of corn, with the white variety used to make a staple food known locally as pap and the yellow type mainly fed to animals.
White-corn output declined 28 percent to 3.41 million tons from 2015 while yellow fell 16 percent to 4.37 million tons, the committee said.
White corn fell 24 percent in 2016 after more than doubling a year earlier, while the yellow type declined 11 percent after a 66 percent advance in 2015.
Soybean output slumped 31 percent from a year ago to 742,000 tons, while sunflower-seed production increased 14 percent to 755,000 tons, the committee said. Sorghum production retreated 41 percent to 70,500 tons and groundnut output plummeted 72 percent to 17,680 tons.